Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski
Biography of Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski
Mikolaj Sep Szarzynski (1550-1581) was a Polish religious poet remembered for writing metaphysical sonnets with inverted word orders.
A forerunner of Baroque poetry, he wrote predominantly religious poetry akin to that of the English Metaphysical poets. In this period satire and pastoral were the most popular forms.
Szarzynski was a full-fledged baroque poet avant la lettre. His only collection, Rytmy albo wiersze polskie (Polish Rhythms or Verses; publicated posthumously in 1601), has been rediscovered only in recent decades, after centuries of oblivion.
Szarzynski did not write much, but what he wrote reveals an extraordinary personality, a profoundly metaphysical poet. In particular, a handful of his religious sonnets, in which tortuous syntax, violent enjambment, and oxymoronic imagery portray a mind torn asunder by spiritual torment, bear comparison with the best of John Donne or George Herbert.
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Epitaph To Rome
If midst Rome you wish to see Rome, pilgrim,
Tho in Rome naught of Rome might you see,
Behold the walls' ring, the theatres, temples
And ruptured pillars, to rubble all turned,
Rome be these! Mark how the corpse of a city
So strong still past fortune's pomp exudes;
Subduing a world, herself the city subdued
Lest yet more to subdue might there be.
Today in broken Rome, Rome unbroken